10 Reasons Why Your Relaxed Hair Hasn’t Gotten Longer

For as long as I can remember I’ve heard that black hair and relaxed hair can’t grow, that it can’t be long and stops growing once it gets to a certain length. Despite hearing that most of my life I didn’t fully believe it because my hair was typically on the longer side. So either what others were saying wasn’t true or I was some exception to the rule.

Outside of a few years where I experienced some serious breakage, I’ve been able to grow my relaxed hair to and past my shoulders. In high school and college, I would grow my hair out in the fall and winter so it would be past my shoulders, and then in the spring or summer, I would cut it to shoulder or chin length.

Related read: How Do You Know When You Have Healthy Hair?

Being uninformed when it came to black and relaxed hair care I began to believe my hair was an exception but boy was I wrong! While genetics does play a role in how our hair grows it’s not the only reason or way to grow longer hair.

10 Reasons Why Your Hair Hasn’t Gotten Longer | A Relaxed Gal

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Unless you have some medical issues your hair is growing. Yes, it may not seem like it but your hair is getting longer. So if you find that your hair never gets past a certain length despite you not trimming or cutting it you most likely are not retaining length.

Length retention is one of the main, if not THE culprit when it comes to having long hair. It is the maintenance of the existing length of your hair by minimizing or eliminating hair breakage.

If your hair is breaking off it gives the illusion that your hair isn’t growing because you’re losing as much hair as is growing out of your scalp. Unlike hair growth, length retention is something that can be controlled.

Here are 10 things that can keep you from maintaining the length of your hair and some tips that you can incorporate into your relaxed hair regimen to address these issues.

1. Dry hair

Having dry hair is one of the main causes of not having length retention. When our hair is dry it’s very fragile making it prone to breakage. I’ve found that my ends tend to dry out the quickest, most likely because they are the oldest part of my hair. My ends are also where I tend to see breakage. So keeping my hair, especially my ends, moisturized can help stop that breakage and help me retain length.

Related read: Top 10 Tips For Helping Dry Relaxed Hair

What you can do

Rotate gentle cleansers into your relaxed hair regimen such as sulfate-free moisturizing shampoos or co-washes. These types of cleansers are gentler on your hair and don't strip all of the good natural oils and moisture like sulfate shampoos tend to.

Deep condition regularly with a moisturizing deep conditioner. Do this at least every time you wash your hair. Plus, you can amp up the effects of the deep conditioner by adding heat or steam.

Consistently moisturize your hair using a moisturizing leave-in conditioner. Then follow up with a hair serum or natural oil to seal in the moisture.

Trade in your cotton pillowcase for a satin one and/or wear a satin/silk scarf or cap at night. Cotton will suck the moisture from your hair and can also cause friction when your hair rubs against it leading to breakage. Satin and silk lessen friction on the hair and don’t remove moisture from the hair, unlike cotton.

2. Not using the right amount of protein

Just like relaxed hair needs moisture it also needs protein. All of the things we do to our hair such as styling, regular maintenance, and using chemicals weaken our hair making it more prone to breakage. Including some protein in your hair regimen can add strength back to your hair and minimize breakage.

On the other hand, if you get heavy-handed with the protein and use too much that your hair is coated and weighed down with it that can cause breakage.

What you can do

If your hair needs protein

If your hair has too much protein then you have protein overload and there are some things you can do to correct this which I talk about in What Protein Overload Is And How To Fix It.

3. Using the wrong hair tools and accessories

Some of the hair damage I’ve had over the years was due to the hair tools and accessories I used. I've used combs with seams that pulled out my hair and created breakage. Elastic hair ties with seams pulled at and broke off my hair.

When it comes down to it, anything we use to style or care for our hair should cause little to no breakage.

What you can do

Use wide-tooth combs like the Hercules Sagemann seamless comb.

Try to not use brushes on your hair.

Use satin or silk scrunchies to hold your buns and ponytails in place instead of elastic hair bands which tend to pull out hair.

Make sure all your hairpins have the bulb on the end. Hairpins without the bulb can literally slice your hair.

4. Wearing damaging hairstyles

Yes, this is totally possible. Some of the hairstyles we wear to protect our hair can damage our hair so much that they do more harm than good. These types of styles include ones that don’t protect our ends, put too much tension on our hair, or can pull out our hair.

What you can do

Wear simple short-term protective styles that don’t need to be redone every single day like buns, braids, and wigs.

When getting braids make sure they aren’t done too tightly.

Wear your hair in a style that keeps your ends from brushing on your clothes.

Avoid gluing wigs to your scalp.

Make sure that the technique used to install your weave doesn’t leave it too tight or has the needle cutting into your hair strands.

5. Too much manipulation

We can’t avoid manipulating our hair because everything we do from styling it to washing it, and daily maintenance requires some level of manipulation. If we over-manipulate our hair by constantly styling it, brushing it, and using direct heat on it that can lead to dryness, frizziness, and breakage.


What you can do

Keep your hands out of your hair as much as possible.

Take your time and be gentle when detangling your hair. When detangling use your fingers first as it’s more gentle and you’ll feel tangles and knots versus tearing through them with a comb.

Use a satin nightcap when you go to sleep which keeps your hair protected and from moving around too much at night.

6. Not getting trims

Getting your hair trimmed may seem like it would hurt hair growth versus helping it. The honest truth is it can if you trim too much and too often. Getting regular trims or dustings as they are sometimes called can remove split ends before they really start and damage your hair. Once a split end gets out of hand and travels up your hair strand you need more than a trim, you need a cut negating all of the hair growth you’ve experienced.

What you can do

Regularly trim your hair, about every 3-4 months or every time you get a relaxer touch-up.

Don’t trim too often though as that will take off your length.

If you see a split end don’t hang on to it, trim it off.

7. Over-processing

For those of us with relaxers, over-processed hair can be a huge reason why length retention seems so elusive. There are a few ways overprocessing can happen.
  • When the relaxer is applied incorrectly. This could be an uneven application or it’s applied to previously relaxed hair so the hair gets relaxed over and over again. It can also happen when the relaxer is left on for too long.
  • Too many chemicals are applied to your hair. Coloring relaxed hair or vice versa can cause a lot of damage. Especially when a professional isn’t involved in the application process.

What you can do

Stretch your relaxer longer than 6 weeks. I go between 10-12 weeks between my relaxers.

Make sure you only relax the new growth so you aren’t relaxing hair that is already relaxed. This is the proper way to do touch-ups on relaxed hair.

Stop coloring your hair. The chemicals used in hair color, especially permanent color can damage your hair if not applied properly or applied to relaxed hair.

Only do one - hair color or relaxer.

Use a well-trained stylist to do your relaxer touch-ups or hair coloring. A good stylist can help make sure the chemicals are properly applied.

8. Poor diet

Yep, what you eat and drink can impact how healthy your hair is when it grows out of your scalp. So if your hair isn’t in a healthy state from the start then it’s more prone to damage and breakage.

What you can do

Drink lots of water so you’re hydrated from the inside out.

Eat foods that have high levels of protein, vitamins, iron, and fatty acids.

9. Too much heat

Direct heat from heat styling tools like blow dryers, curling irons, and flat irons can break down our hair strands weakening them and drying out your hair making it more prone to breakage.

What you can do

Use blow dryers, curling irons, and flat irons on occasion or not at all.

If you do use a heat styling tool make sure you use a heat protectant like the Silk Elements MegaSilk Olive Heat Protectant Spray or Mielle Mongongo Oil Thermal & Heat Protectant Spray.

Dry your hair doing a roller set or air drying.

Rotate heatless hairstyles into the mix.

10. Using the wrong hair products

Just because your favorite relaxed hair infleuncer uses a particular product and gets good results doesn’t mean you’ll have the same results. What works on their hair may not work on yours.

If you use the wrong products on your hair you won’t see your hair thrive and achieve a healthy state which helps it retain length.

What you can do

Strategically pick your hair products based on your hair type and hair needs/issues.

Keep using products that work for your hair.

Figure out what ingredients your hair does and doesn’t like.


  1. Love this guide

  2. Thanks Gal, Your hair looks great , so rich and lots of volume. I’m so lazy to take proper care of my hair I just want 1 great product that will do all the work. I ain’t got time for alll the things needed.


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